T Nation

4-25-05 Strong Words

I must admit I always liked this individual quote from “On The Road”… but did anyone else who read the book find it in total to be fairly ponderous? You get to that quote maybe 14 pages in and then… ehh. The majority of the book seems to lag. Maybe my expectations were fairly skewed, but I was sincerely hoping for something that gave me a clue about the Beat generation… and instead, I felt like I had no better idea of it than when I started.

Granted, the book was not written to be a comprehensive treatise on that era and that group of people known as Beatniks… but it just seemed like far too much random roaming and not enough meaningfull insights. So, maybe I missed the point of the whole book and would love to see anyone else’s takes on it who is a book geek like me.

Kuz

  • Return with honor.

Read “Dharma Bums” by Kerouac. It is one of my all time favorite books.

If you are into the slacker-type books then you must read “Chump Change” by David Henry or Henry David; can’t remember which name is first/last. It is one of the only books that has ever caused me to laugh out loud.

[quote]Kuz wrote:
I must admit I always liked this individual quote from “On The Road”… but did anyone else who read the book find it in total to be fairly ponderous? .[/quote]

Yes. I found it so ponderous that I didn’t actually read it. I tried. Several times.
What can I say, Carver and Hemingway are more my thing.
Rick Bass is a favorite of mine.
I can’t deal with ponderous!

Huh - OK, I will check into that. It’s not that I am into slacker books, per se, but I was hoping for a little more insight into the Beats. I think I got caught up in the reviews I read (from around the time “On The Road” was published) which made it seem like reading this book would unveil some profound universal truths which never came to me. Perhaps I missed my moment of enlightenment/bliss.

In terms of pure laugh out loud books, I would highly recommend “Me Talk Pretty One Day” or “Naked” by David Sedaris. You have to have a certain twisted sense of humor and an appreciation for the bizarre, but damn if he is not one funny mf’er. What makes the books even more astounding is that they are based on actual events in his life that are so astounding, you just can’t make it up.

Kuz

I think Kerouac was always trying to point out that life should be lived through the easiest route, that you should always do what you want to do and to hell with social respectability.

This led him to become an alcoholic, and his last few years were filled with misery and paranoia. He died at the age of 47, with much of his intellect having abandoned him.

If you want to know about him and his novels, I’d recommend his biography, which pretty much summarizes all his books, albeit in a much less fervent, energetic manner. I read this, although looking back I really have no idea why, he’s not one of may favourite novelists.

I read it a few years ago and didn’t really like it. I found it more rambling than ponderous, and I think this can be attributed to the fact that he wrote the thing at light speed in 3 weeks, and wasn’t a big fan of editing.

I prefer more dense, thoughtful writers like Scott Fitzgerald and Nietzsche. Nabakov has been a favourite lately too.

Good points all, OB. The funny thing is that I don’t necessarily mind the stream of consciousness style because in the midst of letting out all your thoughts, you will tend to find some true gems. But as much as I dug through Jack’s little stream of thought, I could not unearth any nuggets.

And yes, I just made a propspector’s reference there and no, I don’t regret it (well, at least not yet… give me time).

Don’t get me wrong, I have tremendous respect for him as a person and as a writer. From my POV though he had a few problems which may have hindered the quality of his books (ie. the bottle, refusing to edit). He suffered tremendously and I think many lessons can be taken from his novels and life, but it is important to look at both, and to see the end result.

[quote]Orbitalboner wrote:
I read it a few years ago and didn’t really like it. I found it more rambling than ponderous, and I think this can be attributed to the fact that he wrote the thing at light speed in 3 weeks, and wasn’t a big fan of editing.

I prefer more dense, thoughtful writers like Scott Fitzgerald and Nietzsche. Nabakov has been a favourite lately too.[/quote]

If I’m not mistaken, he wrote it in 3 DAYS while in a methamphetamine haze. Wrote the whole thing on a roll of teletype paper.

Editor added in all the punctuation.

And yeah, I agree, Dharma Bums might give you more insight. It’s a more conventional story about Kerouac and poets Ginsberg and Gary Snyder hiking up a mountain.

However, for an outsider’s view, read “Desolate Angel” by Dennis McNally.

Also, try the audio book read by Matt Dillon. Excellent. I’ve “read” it twice that way.

I think some people read it today and think, “That’s it? That’s what all the fuss is about?” But you have to put it into the context of 1957, when it was first published. Radically different then.

[quote]Atomic Dog wrote:
If I’m not mistaken, he wrote it in 3 DAYS while in a methamphetamine haze. Wrote the whole thing on a roll of teletype paper.

Editor added in all the punctuation.

And yeah, I agree, Dharma Bums might give you more insight. It’s a more conventional story about Kerouac and poets Ginsberg and Gary Snyder hiking up a mountain.

However, for an outsider’s view, read “Desolate Angel” by Dennis McNally.[/quote]

Sweet mother of God, 3 days is ridiculous (unless you’re Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein). I feel for the editor who had to work out all of the paragraphs, commas and semicolons for that bugger. And why does Dennis McNally’s name sound so familiar? Does he have any other books?

Since I can see we have a few readers on the thread, I would like to toss a question out there. I’m in 2 different book clubs and it’s my turn to pick the next one for my “guy’s club” (group of guys who wanted their own book club away from their wives and roped their single guy friends into it). We’re fairly open to styles, authors, genres and so on. We’ve read everything from books about Rwanda (“We Regret To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with our Families” - great, but absolutely draining book… if you cast a leery eye at the U.N. before this book, let me just say that Kofi Annan will not be on your Christmas card list this year) to sci-fi to fiction (Kavalier and Clay).

I would love to hear some recommendations if anyone has any. Something that will spark a little intellectual debate would be perfect.

Kuz

[quote]Chris Shugart wrote:
Also, try the audio book read by Matt Dillon. Excellent. I’ve “read” it twice that way.

I think some people read it today and think, “That’s it? That’s what all the fuss is about?” But you have to put it into the context of 1957, when it was first published. Radically different then.

[/quote]

Chris, I think that probably has a lot to do with why I am struggling on this one. The reviews that heavily praised it were from the same time period, so I’m sure it was a breath of fresh air for the time period of staid, family values and “I Like Ike” in the same way that “Lady Chatterly’s Lover” shocked/appalled people in Victorian England. I can say that with “On The Road”, I can certainly appreciate the crackling (and apparently speed influenced) energy because the writing itself bristles with it, regardless of time period.

Kuz

[quote]Kuz wrote:

Sweet mother of God, 3 days is ridiculous (unless you’re Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein). I feel for the editor who had to work out all of the paragraphs, commas and semicolons for that bugger. And why does Dennis McNally’s name sound so familiar? Does he have any other books?

Kuz[/quote]

Or Robert Louis Stevenson writing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I think Desolate Angel is the bio that I read, quite detailed and objective I thought.

[quote]Kuz wrote:

Since I can see we have a few readers on the thread, I would like to toss a question out there. I’m in 2 different book clubs and it’s my turn to pick the next one for my “guy’s club” (group of guys who wanted their own book club away from their wives and roped their single guy friends into it). We’re fairly open to styles, authors, genres and so on. We’ve read everything from books about Rwanda (“We Regret To Inform You That Tomorrow We Will Be Killed with our Families” - great, but absolutely draining book… if you cast a leery eye at the U.N. before this book, let me just say that Kofi Annan will not be on your Christmas card list this year) to sci-fi to fiction (Kavalier and Clay).

I would love to hear some recommendations if anyone has any. Something that will spark a little intellectual debate would be perfect.

Kuz[/quote]

I think The Beach by Alex Garland would be the perfect book for this. It reads like a comet and it’s got a sort of Utopian theme to it. Many interesting metaphysical meanderings to boot.

Lolita or The Defence by Vladimir Nabakov are both amazing, especially if you enjoy twisted humor. His style and skill with the English language is incredible for someone who grew up in Soviet Russia.

Come on TC, get on those book recommendations!

[quote]Kuz wrote:

Sweet mother of God, 3 days is ridiculous (unless you’re Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein). I feel for the editor who had to work out all of the paragraphs, commas and semicolons for that bugger. And why does Dennis McNally’s name sound so familiar? Does he have any other books?

Kuz[/quote]

McNally also wrote a book about the Grateful Dead. Don’t know about any others.

Well, there is this work of surrealism I’ve been plowing through.

It’s about a spider and a pig, and get this, they talk!

They live on a farm and they talk with all the other animals. It’s called “Charlotte’s Web.”

Nahh, just kidding. Let me think about this for a bit.

Love the Nabokov recommendation, but that’s damn meaty stuff for a book club.

[quote]Atomic Dog wrote:
Well, there is this work of surrealism I’ve been plowing through.

It’s about a spider and a pig, and get this, they talk!

They live on a farm and they talk with all the other animals. It’s called “Charlotte’s Web.”

Nahh, just kidding. Let me think about this for a bit.

Love the Nabokov recommendation, but that’s damn meaty stuff for a book club.[/quote]

Thanks, TC. Nabokov might not be too bad since the club is a bunch of hoity-toity lawyers who fancy themselves smart cause o’ all their fancy book learnin’. It’s funny because many of the guys are married and when we have the meetings over at their houses (with their wives or kids in their other room), the talk is about the book and the baseball season. Lo and behold we have a meeting at my bachelor pad, all they talk about is Jessica Alba and surfing the web for Jenna Jameson porn… not that there’s anything wrong with either, mind you.

We’re reading non-fiction right now (“April 1865: The Month That Saved America”) so something more in the fiction vein would be nice, although back on the Jenna Jameson thing, I am tempted to stick in right in their eye and pick “How To Make Love Like a Porn Star” by Ms. J.J. herself. Love to see them smuggle that one home for reading in bed with their wives. :wink:

Final note: Love the “Big Words” posts in Shugart’s blog. Good stuff - love to see more.

TC,
Have you gotten any reader feedback w/ Vitamin C drips? If yes, where in the hell did they get it? I asked a naturopath about it but it would run about $210 per visit. This is the most interesting thing I’ve read about in a long time so if you could give me any feedback I’d a appreciate it.